Racing: Drums beat for Ringo at Te Rapa

By Mike Dillon

Jumps racing in the north kicks off today and the favourite in the opening event will be It's A Message

Florida Derby winner Orb will face a tough task in the Kentucky Derby tomorrow after drawing barrier 16. Photo / AP
Florida Derby winner Orb will face a tough task in the Kentucky Derby tomorrow after drawing barrier 16. Photo / AP

One of the best, if not the best, improving horses we've seen out in recent months is Ringo.

Two wins from three attempts tells only half the story of his great potential and that could be extended today, depending on track conditions.

The footing when he won at Hastings last start was officially slow, but it wasn't as bad as Te Rapa might get if the rain arrives in early afternoon as predicted.

Ringo is in the last race at 4.40pm and the chance of a downgraded surface is probably going to be strong.

If he's given a fair crack he will simply be too good.

Jumps racing in the north kicks off at Te Rapa today and the favourite in the opening event will be It's A Message, who has been in great form on the flat lately. His private reputation as a jumper is pretty high.

Dancing Chief (No6, R3) got too far off the speed before running on for fifth at Avondale last start. It will be a surprise if he is not ridden more forward this time on a track he has twice been successful on.

He produced a big second at Ellerslie two starts back after leading.

The Browne Memorial Steeples is tricky, despite just six runners. Has Cape Kinaveral (No 1, R5) got too much weight to win with 70kg? Might the track cut up too much for Zagata (No3) or might Morpheus (No5) be too slick on the minimum weight. Morpheus is best known as a hurdler, but he won one of his two steeplechase races and looks on the verge of great form over the bigger fences.

Absolutely Sacred (No1, R7) drew wide when just going under at Hastings last start and probably otherwise would have won. This time he comes out of an inside gate and that should be the winning of this for him.

His stablemate Popeye Braggins (No1, R9) ran into Ringo last start and did an extremely good job of trying to run him down late. That is great form and good enough to win this race. Lustre (No12) might surprise by getting into the trifecta and first4.

•Peter Gelagotis knows Hvasstan needs to lift on his Sydney performances but the trainer believes the colt won't get a better chance at Group One success than in today's South Australian Derby.

It will be Hvasstan's third crack at a Derby victory this season having finished fourth in the Victoria Derby in the spring and sixth in the Australian Derby last start.

Hvasstan was well-beaten in a two-start Sydney campaign in the Rosehill Guineas and Australian Derby, but connections decided to press on and give him a shot in today's A$500,000 ($602,000) feature in Adelaide.

"I'm pleased with him and that's why we are chancing our arm, but I'm also mindful that he needs to lift," Gelagotis said.

"The horse's performances in Sydney were way below his best Melbourne form and there's a question mark."

Gelagotis has always had plenty of faith in the talent of Hvasstan and that hasn't changed.

He said ratings suggest Hvasstan is the best horse in the race and is hopeful he can run up to that on his return to his favoured way of going.

"The way the acceptances have fallen, he's not going to get a better chance [to win a Group One]," Gelagotis said.

There is an inquiry pending into Hvasstan's returning a positive swab to ibuprofen on the night of the Group Two Alister Clark in March and he faces disqualification from his biggest win so far.

The colt is a slight favourite for the Derby ahead of Shoreham who won the Listed Galilee Series Final over 2500m at Flemington last start.

Hioctdane is also right in the market, as is Gerontius who finished fourth in the Australian Derby.

- additional reporting, AAP

- NZ Herald

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